Contributing to the amorphous vaults of Irish psychedelic guitar noise is always important work, but work nonetheless and something to be approached with foresight. Monolithic repetition and loose structure do not mean that it’s easy to be interesting – Any assortment of Hash elves and giggly stoner man-boys can spend 3 hours in front of big amps with a rack of pedals, but this doesn’t imply that the world automatically needs to hear the results.
Afterwardness is a Dublin based trio comprising former members of Pet Lamb, Female Hercules and the Idiots. One way or another, these people have all been making noise for decades, and although the configuration of guitars, drums, vocals and keyboards (no bass) doesn’t stray far from previous adventures in sound, Afterwardness presents something completely different.
I’m not quite sure if this record is officially called VESSEL/SHELLAKAPOOKY or just AFTERWARDNESS (the record spine and Bandcamp contradict each other), but it was released at the end of October by Thirty Three 45, a kind of art/audio cultural entity and label thing, recently responsible for a visual zine and CDR series called Drag Acid – I have unfortunately not seen physical copies of this yet, But I like the cut of its jib.
The record is two long tracks – an uncluttered presentation of Afterwardness as they intend to proceed with their noise, and the initial forecast is one of great promise.
VESSEL immediately sits into a mid-paced hammering drone of guitar and drums, introducing wonderful layers of melody and other juicy guitar stuff only when it is good and ready to do so. For some reason I was expecting this to be an instrumental record – both tracks have vocal sections that are brief but significant to the overall content.
As it enters what we could be referred to as its second movement (for the sake of calling it something), VESSEL veers off into an eerie and vintage type of cosmic miasma – equal parts Kluster and maybe a particularly weird episode of the Time Tunnel. The drums rejoin proceedings and things get a little more abrasive as a new slower rhythm is established, although the guitars resist being forged into any sort of structure until the final vocal section guides the track right back to the motif it came in on. It’s all a shimmering, driving ball of molten something or other and an opulent listening experience!
SHELLAKAPOOKY employs more of a rhythmic stomp with chiming guitars and a deep swampy swagger. The result is a kind of repetitive no-wave blues. And a shellakapooky is, of course, a wonderful word that the strange tribes of Waterford use to reference shelled gastropods, so this is thematic gold and serves whatever purpose Afterwardness needs it for. In contrast to VESSEL, this track has traces of a conventional song hidden in plain sight in its extended and droning fabric, and “shellakapooky” becomes a mantra as part of the lyrical content… Not sure what the rest is about as there’s no lyric sheet, but such things are probably superfluous here in any case.
This is an impressive debut. Afterwardness concocts a convincing potion of crunchy repetition, effervescent volatility and shimmering spacey ingredient X… All that is required of the listener is to let it spill, preferably at volume, and enjoy the dribbles of noise!